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REPORT ON THE INAUGURAL PACIFIC REGIONAL MEETING, BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA 2-4 SEPTEMBER 2001

The Inaugural Pacific Regional Meeting was attended by 27 delegates, some accompanied by their partners. Of the delegates, 25 gave presentations at the two day meeting which had the theme "Tradition and Globalisation: Critical Issues for Accommodation of CPR's in the Pacific Region". The theme was designed to act as a precursor to the Ninth Biennial Conference to be held in Southern Africa in June 2002, which has as its theme "The Commons in an Age of Globalisation".

The Pacific Regional Meeting was the first IASCP Regional Meeting, and that this region should be the focus of such a meeting was not accidental. The IASCP Pacific Region includes both small nations, remnants of colonial empires, and medium sized nations, all of which are experiencing unprecedented development stresses upon both local and regional CPR's. It is a region, which is characterized by vast tracts of maritime CPR's, whilst the significantly smaller terrestrial resources are being utilised in an unsustainable manner.

The delegates were drawn not only from the Pacific region but also from South Asia and South-East Asia, evidencing the support within the region and adjoining regions for IASCP meetings, which have a focus upon regional rather than global issues which are particularly critical to local researchers and practitioners. However, the extrapolation of regional experiences to a global context was not overlooked by delegates, and clearly anticipated a further exchange of knowledge at the forthcoming Biennial Conference.

The delegates attending were drawn from Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Bhutan, New Caledonia, Hawaii and mainland USA, and it was evident early in the presentations that forests, and the recognition and management of traditional or indigenous lands were to be major topics for discussion. Indeed, the focus on indigenous property rights and interests was so profound that IASCP President Susan Hanna observed in her closing address that the gravity of such issues had reinforced in her mind the need to press forward with the regionalisation initiative.

Susan also observed that the debate around whether there should be a research or a practice focus for IASCP had been resolved in her mind at least for the Pacific region. Researchers and practitioners had an indivisible task when it came to considering issues surrounding CPR - each had a definable but clearly interwoven role, in order that research and practice could be meaningful for the region.

The Australian Property Institute (API), which provides the secretariat to support the IASCP Regional Representative John Sheehan, flawlessly organised the Pacific Regional Meeting, and the venue at the Queensland University of Technology and the surrounding Brisbane Botanical Gardens provided a superb backdrop to the rigorous debates that ensued during the two days of the Meeting. At the close of the proceedings John Sheehan invited delegates at large to become part of the planning committee for the second Pacific Regional Meeting proposed for 2003.

Subsequently, the IASCP Pacific Regional Representative has met with Ms Ruth Turia from Papua New Guinea who was a presenter at the Meeting, and liaison is now occurring with a view to establishing a formal correspondent in PNG as part of the developing IASCP region structure.

Since the Pacific Regional Meeting, the strengths and weaknesses of organizing such a conference have become more evident. John Sheehan reports that the use of the API Secretariat as experienced conference organizers was readily identified as a strength in this inaugural exercise. The logistical support for such a Meeting includes the presence of experienced technicians available to deal with unexpected presentation problems, the need for translators, and the overarching issue of financial management of registration and ongoing venue costs.

The ambit of research and practice topics was somewhat confronting although not unexpected, and provided a richness and variety, which was identified as a major strength of the inaugural Pacific Regional Meeting.

A weakness of organizing such a conference was the late arrival of completed papers notwithstanding deadlines placed by the acceptance panel - this resulted in a need for unnecessarily costly urgent copying of such papers, and hence stress upon the Meeting budget. Also, the late withdrawal of a number of presenters for various reasons was the source of major concern to the secretariat. The inability to obtain travel and accommodation funding appears to be an increasing issue for prospective delegates from small Pacific nations, and this issue will have to be considered by IASCP Council in planning for other regional meetings. There is a need to prearrange funding sources in order that poorly resourced researchers can attend future regional meetings in the Pacific and elsewhere.

Click here for a list of delegates.

This report is being provided to you by: John Sheehan
IASCP Pacific Regional Representative

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